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3 Biotech Regions Making Headlines


10/23/2011 11:35:18 PM

By Michelle Wong, BioSpace.com

The biotechnology industry is volatile. Investors have been sensitive to decisions made on new drugs considering the state of the global economic recovery. Even though the biotech industry itself has been shaky, positive growth signs for expansion have been noted in a few regions. Below are the three biotech clusters making waves in the nation.

San Francisco Bay Area (Biotech Bay)

The San Francisco Bay Area may not always be hot all year round, but its biotech industry sure is. Known as the birthplace of biotechnology, it is also one of the largest concentration of biotech companies in the nation. It is home to nearly 1,377 companies, with an estimated 46 companies in San Francisco.

San Francisco's Susan Besmond-Hellmann, a former Genentech executive, is turning UCSF's Mission Bay campus into a biotech empire with major federal funding for the project.

In other cities such as San Bruno, biotech is also flourishing. The PRC Clinical announced the expansion of its Bay Area offices to a larger facility in this city. This company provides Phase I-IV contract services include project management, regional site monitoring, and site payment administration.

Although the Bay Area region represents a significant cluster for biotechnology, California, as a whole, is a growing source of life science innovations. A recent survey of California’s pioneering industrial biotechnology sector shows that this sector has great potential for job growth in the state. California's industrial biotechnology industry increased employment by 632 percent in the past five years. With the proper investment in the workforce, and cooperation from the state government, the sector is poised to be a major employer in California for years to come.

New York (Pharm Country)

New York City provides a variety of funding programs for both new and well established biotech companies. The New York City Council introduced the NYC Biotech Tax Credit which benefits small biotech companies to accelerate and provides them with a refundable tax credit for their facilities, operations, and training. Alternative funding is available by the New York Investment Fund (NYCIF) that created a new $15 million loan program that is available for bioscience companies looking to establish headquarters and principal operations at the Alexandria Center for Science and Technology at East River Science Park in Manhattan. The East River Science Park Lab Space Loan Fund will provide loans at attractive rates to help companies build out basic biology and chemistry laboratory space. NYCIF will co-invest bioscience companies alongside lead VC firms. A federal program, such as the Technology Transfer Incentive Program (TTIP), is specifically designed to help business make the rapid transfer of new ideas and new technology from the research lab to the marketplace.

AngioDynamics Inc., a medical device-maker is transferring its England operation to Queensbury, New York. AngioDynamics expects to add eight jobs over the next two or three months. The move will be completed in February 2012 and will cost $1.6 million, though the company expects to save $1 million a year with the switch.

Just recently, InvaGen Pharmaceuticals announced its plans to invest $39 million in an aggressive expansion plan that will create 350 new jobs over the next five years in Suffolk County. Governor Andrew Cuomo, stated that InvaGen’s expansion would be utilizing $1.8 million in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits from the Empire State Development Corporation to decrease the costs of building a new 250,000 square foot facility in Central Islip.

Massachusetts (Genetown)

Massachusetts continues to outpace other states and countries for biotechnology industry growth and investment, according to an annual industry report produced by MassBio. Biopharma industry employment topped 48,000 in 2010, and Massachusetts biotech companies received an all-time high share of venture capital investment last year.

Recently in September, Izon Science, officially opened the company’s new U.S. headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts to further support their expanding client base in 23 countries.

“The continued success of the biotechnology and life sciences industries is certainly a highlight of the resilient Massachusetts economy,” said Representative Joseph F. Wagner, House chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies and co-chair of the Jobs Creation Commission. “This growth is encouraging as both an indicator of economic development and job creation, as well as for those who benefit from important medical advances in the industry.”

Earlier this year in June, Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts discussed the state’s Life Science initiative which was the heart of an event in Washington, hosted by the commonwealth. At the event, Patrick stated that the initiative has “invested more than $200 million which drew more than $700 million in private industry matching funds from venture capitalists, private funders and big pharm.”

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a non-profit group, which promotes the advancement of Women in the business of Science and Technology, announced that a $30,000 grant has been awarded to WEST. This grant serves as a means to expand the geographic reach of the organization’s workforce development programming. The grant will allow for WEST programs to be made available in the Route 128 and Route 495/Worcester regions.

Keep your eye on this hot biotech region -- it is sure to be a hit as the future looks exceptionally bright.

About the Author

Michelle Wong researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

Read at BioSpace.com

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